Rafa Benitez will definitely be absent on Friday when the pre-Swansea press conference takes place.
After speculation had grown in the past 24 hours, Newcastle United have confirmed to the media that the manager will not be undertaking the usual media duties.
Instead, his assistant Francisco de Miguel Moreno (pictured above) will be conducting the press conference.
Also known as ‘Paco’, the fitness coach has been with Rafa Benitez at a number of previous clubs and is reported to have taken training in the absence of the United boss.
Rafa is recovering from surgery which he had during the international break and it now looks pretty certain that he won’t be at Swansea now.
Conspiracy theorists were quick to wonder whether the fact this was the first match since the transfer window closed had anything to do with Rafa’s absence, in order to avoid having to answer awkward questions, but various journalists have insisted Benitez was actually on his way to Tyneside this morning but had to turn around and go back home due to feeling unwell.
The Mag – Earlier today (Thursday 7 September):
On Wednesday it was revealed that Rafa Benitez had missed training this week due to being unwell after having surgery during the international break.
Then Thursday morning (see below) brought an update that the United boss hadn’t made it to training on Thursday either. With claims though that Rafa Benitez was still hoping to make training and the press conference on Friday, then the actual game at Swansea on Sunday.
A further update has come from the well-connected and reliable George Caulkin from The Times.
He has revealed that Benitez actually set off to come to Newcastle (presumably from the family home in the north west), only to have to turn around and head back due to feeling unwell.
George Caulkin says that Rafa will try to get to Newcastle tomorrow but that regardless of whether that happens or not, the Newcastle manager has been advised to give Swansea a miss.
Rafa is very intense during games as he patrols his technical area and the stresses and strains of managing a match, would be a real test for somebody like him who hasn’t even managed to be well enough to take training this week.
“Rafa Benitez set off for Newcastle this (Thursday) morning but had to turn back.
“Still feeling the effects of an op(eration) to clean out an old hernia wound.
“He’s yet to return to Nufc training ground after a few days at home.
“Will try again tomorrow (Friday) but being advised by staff to miss Swansea game.”
The Mag – Even earlier today (Thursday 7 September):
On Wednesday (see below) it was revealed that Rafa Benitez had missed training this week due to it taking longer than expected to recover from surgery in the international break.
It was hoped Rafa would return today but Thursday once again saw him not able to take charge of the team, as reported by the Chronicle.
The Manager is still scheduled to take training on Friday and then deliver his pre-Swansea press conference but it remains to be seen whether that happens.
With Rafa Benitez no doubt convalescing in the North West, the smart money may be on the United boss just meeting up with the squad down in Swansea before the game, as if he is still in discomfort it would hardly seem worthwhile to drag him up to the north east for the one day.
As a workaholic though, no doubt Benitez will do everything he can to be involved as soon as possible.
Wednesday also brought confirmation that Chancel Mbemba had picked up a hamstring injury on international duty.
The press in DR Congo quoted the team doctor as saying the defender would be out for between a month and three months, though Newcastle are still awaiting his return to Tyneside so they can assess him themselves.
The Mag – 6 September 2017:
Rafa Benitez has had injury problems to deal with already despite the season only being a couple of weeks old, with the likes of Lejeune, Dummett and Yedlin all missing matches.
In addition, Jonjo Shelvey has just finished a three match suspension, whilst Aleksandar Mitrovic is set to start a three game ban on Sunday.
However, Newcastle are now facing the biggest injury problem of all with Rafa Benitez having been unable to prepare his team this week.
An exclusive in The Independent has revealed that the United boss underwent surgery in the international break and had been expected to be fit enough to return and oversee training/Swansea preparations on Tuesday.
In the event though, Rafa Benitez has missed training both on Tuesday and Wednesday, with no guarantee he will be able to return this week, with maybe even medical advice preventing him travelling to Swansea.
The exclusive says that it was follow-up surgery to a hernia operation he had over two years ago, before taking the Real Madrid job.
Get well soon!
‘Rafa Benitez underwent a hernia operation two years ago before he took over at Real Madrid, however the spell in hospital left him with discomfort and he was forced to undergo further surgery in Cheshire during the international break.
He had planned to return for sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, but so far has been unable to resume his position at St James’ Park. There are now worries he will not be able to return to the club’s Benton training ground this week, but the former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager is doing everything in his power to do so.
Benitez had been taking antibiotics to deal with the pain in the aftermath of the original operation to fix a long-standing hernia problem. However the issues that the operation caused, when it is believed he picked up the infection, required his trip to hospital to investigate the problem.
Benitez is currently on the mend and is eager to link up with his players in the aftermath of the club’s first victory of the season over West Ham on August 26, and is adamant he will take control at Swansea, but he may have to listen to medical advice.’